Patient perspectives on communication with the medical team: Pilot study using the communication assessment tool-team (CAT-T)

Laura Min Mercer, Paula Tanabe, Peter S. Pang, Michael A. Gisondi, D. Mark Courtney, Kirsten G. Engel, Sarah M. Donlan, James G. Adams, Gregory Makoul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Objective: Effective communication is an essential aspect of high-quality patient care and a core competency for physicians. To date, assessment of communication skills in team-based settings has not been well established. We sought to tailor a psychometrically validated instrument, the Communication Assessment Tool, for use in Team settings (CAT-T), and test the feasibility of collecting patient perspectives of communication with medical teams in the emergency department (ED). Methods: A prospective, cross-sectional study in an academic, tertiary, urban, Level 1 trauma center using the CAT-T, a 15-item instrument. Items were answered via a 5-point scale, with 5 = excellent. All adult ED patients (≥18 y/o) were eligible if the following exclusion criteria did not apply: primary psychiatric issues, critically ill, physiologically unstable, non-English speaking, or under arrest. Results: 81 patients were enrolled (mean age: 44, S.D. = 17; 44% male). Highest ratings were for treating the patient with respect (69% excellent), paying attention to the patient (69% excellent), and showing care and concern (69% excellent). Lowest ratings were for greeting the patient appropriately (54%), encouraging the patient to ask questions (54%), showing interest in the patient's ideas about his or her health (53% excellent), and involving the patient in decisions as much as he or she wanted (53% excellent). Conclusion: Although this pilot study has several methodological limitations, it demonstrates a signal that patient assessment of communication with the medical team is feasible and offers important feedback. Results indicate the need to improve communication in the ED. Practice implications: In the ED, focusing on the medical team rather then individual caregivers may more accurately reflect patients' experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-223
Number of pages4
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Communication skills
  • Emergency medicine
  • Medical team communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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